Journal of the Kosciusko Guards •  Company E • 12th Regiment

 Written by William S. Hemphill • Transcribed by Marjorie Priser

 Chapter 10

Writing this Journal

It was intended in this Journal to preserve a record of every movement or incident of the company's term of service that might prove interesting or beneficial to the men in future years. To this end every detail for duty and a synopsis of the morning reports together with explanatory notes had been kept on file to be entered in the Journal at a more convenient time. The Journal was partially written up at Dam No. 4 but the threatening attitude of the enemy interfered with and finally compelled a suspension of the work.

During the movements in the spring of 1862 there was no opportunity afforded for the completion of the work and it was deemed advisable to defer it until we returned home. On being mustered out of service at Washington, Capt. Williams proposed as he was going directly home, to make room for the papers in his trunk and take them home for me. As the papers were rather bulky, and I had arranged to visit relatives and friends in Pennsylvania and Ohio on my way home, I was very glad to accept his kind offer, as it would relieve me of considerable weight and care on the journey. I spent about six weeks visiting at several points in Pennsylvania and Ohio with friends from whom I had been separated for eight years.

On my arrival at Warsaw I found Capt. Williams just completing his arrangements to re-enter the service in the reorganized 12th Regiment; while, after attending to some personal matters my time and attention was fully occupied with recruiting and organizing a company for the 4th Indiana Cavalry. We both went to the front and remained until the war closed during which time the Journal of Co. E was almost forgotten.

Some time after our return home, on looking for the package of papers, so necessary in completing the Journal, it was discovered that Mrs. Williams in one of her periodical house-cleaning campaigns had unearthed the package of papers and supposing them to be of no particular value had consigned them to the stove or rag bag and they were forever gone. The misfortune compelled me to fall back on my private diary for such notes as might there be recorded. This, fortunately had been somewhat extended, as regarded company movements, but the more important individual record of the men was omitted. However from the diary and some stray company memorandums that had got mixed with my private papers a tolerably complete Journal covering the time up to January 15th 1862 was figured out.

Unfortunately another difficulty presented itself at that point. My diary for 1862 containing a brief sketch of the doings in the company from the 1st of January to our muster-out had been taken with me in the cavalry service, and was used during the balance of the year. It was then placed with my private papers and the diary for 1863 begun and was in due time completed and placed with the papers to be sent home at a convenient season. They were in my valise in the A. A. General's wagon when it was captured or destroyed at Sabrin X Roads, La. April 8th 1864.

When I came to write up this Journal I had nothing left but my letters home, which had fortunately been preserved and contained such information concerning the company, as would be expected by those to whom I had written, to guide me. The Journal for 1862 is accurate so far as it goes but is incomplete, in regards to the in dividual record that was contem-plated. It only gives a general statement of company movements, and such incidents as were deemed of sufficient interest to be mentioned in a letter. No one can regret the loss of the original notes more than I do.

This loss has already been seriously felt by several of the men, who have applied for pensions. The very facts on which they would rely to establish their claims, are the ones that were carefully suppressed in writing home, so as to avoid creating any uneasiness at home regarding their welfare.
Having carefully noted the facts on my memorandum record, I did not charge my memory with them; and after passing through stirring scenes of the war, during the three years subsequent to our muster out, it would be impossible for any man to recall the particulars of time, place and circumstances under which a disease was contracted, or injury received unless there was something of a peculiar character to fix it in his mind, or some reliable record to refresh his memory. I would not pretend to make an affidavit even in my own behalf without consulting my records; as I have found no one yet who can state time, place and circumstances correctly after a lapse of twenty-five or thirty years, if they rely wholly upon memory.

I have the declarations made by a great many men, on which their claims are based, and have record to prove that every one of them were defective in some particular and vital point. However statements I have made in this Journal I can vouch for under oath but in any other case touching the individual record of the men I would hesitate to do more than say "according to my best recollection" and I confidently believe that my memory is as fully retentive as that of any ordinary man.

One fact that was briefly referred to on pages 103 and 104 [this book page 83] concerning the date of enlistment and date of muster, should be still further explained. The men reported as enrolled at the meetings noted on pages 5, 6 and 7 [this book page 4 and 5] had, with but few exceptions, joined for duty at the first meeting (April 19th) and were present and actively engaged in the work of perfecting the organization. The enrollment of their names had been overlooked by the committee appointed for that purpose; each member supposing that the other had the names; until on comparing notes the omission was discovered. Had the names all been enrolled when the men actually joined the company, the organization could have been complete on the 20th.

Owing to this omission which was considered of little importance at the time, the organization was not completed until the 22nd and that delay lengthened the time of service from three months as at first contemplated to thirteen months, as it proved to be.

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